[The death on 7 August of the former chief of General Pinochet’s DINA secret police, Manuel Contreras, prompted celebrations outside the Santiago military hospital in which he passed away and across Chile.
Contreras’ death once again brought into the international spotlight the painful legacy of Pinochet's 17-year military rule. In the midst of renewed interest in the dictatorship’s human rights violations, the scheduled arrival of the Esmeralda, a Chilean naval ship with a dark past, to Britain on the 26 August seems ill judged.]
The Esmeralda, the Chilean Navy Ship with a Dark Past Visits Britain Wednesday 26 August 2015, by Robbie Wilson.
The death on 7 August of the former chief of General Pinochet’s DINA secret police, Manuel Contreras, prompted celebrations outside the Santiago military hospital in which he passed away and across Chile.
Contreras’ death once again brought into the international spotlight the painful legacy of Pinochet's 17-year military rule. In the midst of renewed interest in the dictatorship’s human rights violations, the scheduled arrival of the Esmeralda, a Chilean naval vessel with a dark past, to Britain on the 26 August seems ill judged.
A Chilean Navy training ship since 1953, the Esmeralda has been cited in numerous court cases and NGO investigations as having served as a floating detention and torture centre during the dictatorship. Amongst the ship’s victims was Anglo-Chilean priest Michael Woodward, who was arrested shortly after the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende’s Unidad Popular coalition government. Following years of campaigning by Woodward’s family, a 2013 court case in Valparaiso, led by Judge María Elena Quezada, ruled that Father Woodward had died of wounds inflicted whilst detained aboard the Esmeralda.
The Esmeralda’s repurposing as a site of state terrorism was well documented by opponents of the dicatorship as early as 1976, when the ship’s participation in a Bicentennial flotilla in New York was met with a two-thousand strong protest. Similarly, the vessel’s presence in this August’s Sail Amsterdam festival received heavy condemnation from Amnesty International and Dutch-Chilean exiles association Mapuche, which picketed the welcome event hosted aboard the ship.
The Esmeralda’s official website proudly details the ship’s service history. However, there is no mention of the abuses the ship once housed. In 2000 the Esmeralda’s former Lieutenant Commander (and current director of the Talcahuano Naval Hospital) Rodrigo Márquez Marnich stated “the media likes to manipulate a controversial story that supposedly happened 25 years ago. It did not happen”. The ship’s website also fails to list the specific location at which the ship intends to moor in London between the 26– 30 August, perhaps owing to a previously aborted trip in 2003 after protests were held in Dartmouth.
Following recognition of the Esmeralda’s dark past in Chilean courts, the ship’s continued deployment as a centrepiece of Chilean diplomacy is both surprising and morose, while the notion that its voyages could represent national pride to expatriates is highly questionable. In its present capacity the Esmeralda is obtrusive to the reconciliation
process: rather than silencing its past, the ship might better serve the nation were it permanently moored in Valparaiso and used as an addition to Santiago’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
A protest at the Esmeralda’s presence in Britain takes place on Saturday
29 August in London – for more information visit:
source : Mapuche Foundation | FOLIL
The Netherlands/ Países bajos
About 50 historic vessels sailed from Ijmuiden, in the western Netherlands, to the capital on Wednesday Accompanied by hundreds of smaller, private boats for SAIL Amsterdam, which takes place every five years
Highlights among the vessels included an 18th century frigate replica and a 19th century French merchant ship But there was also controversy, thanks to a Chilean vessel used as a torture ship during Pinochet's rule
At first glance, it could be a scene from a bygone era - the sails of the tall ships fluttering against the sky.
But a closer look at the smaller boats which surround them reveal this is, in fact, a far more modern scene.
The 50 stunning tall ships had come from across the world to take part in SAIL Amsterdam, which takes place every five years and sees hundreds of boats accompanying these historic vessels on a trip from Ijmuiden, in the western Netherlands, to the capital.
Looking back at history: About 50 historic vessels sailed from Ijmuiden, in the western Netherlands, to Amsterdam on Wednesday
Popular: They were accompanied by hundreds of smaller, private boats for SAIL Amsterdam, which takes place every five years
This year, the fleet included an 18th century frigate replica, a 19th century French merchant ship and a controversial Chilean vessel which, in the not so distance past, was used for torture.
They will now remain in the harbour until Sunday, with organisers expecting around two million visitors to pop down for a closer look.
Highlights include the Etoile du Roy, a reproduction of a 1745 frigate used in the British television series 'Horatio Hornblower,' and the Belem, a French 19th century steel-hulled three-master.
But it was the presence of Chilean school ship Esmeralda, used for the torture of political opponents under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which ran from 1973 until 1990, has brought controversy to the family event.
Anger: But there was also controversy, thanks to a boat which was once used to torture people in Chile during the Pinochet regime
Dark past: The four master vessel (not pictured) was used to torture at least 100 people during the dictatorship
Huge draw: It is thought about two million people will see the boats before they set off once more from Amsterdam harbour on Sunday
Another chance: For those upset to have missed out, a fleet of tall ships is due to arrive in Greenwich, London, next weekend
An association of Chilean exiles has said it would hold a vigil next to the four-master on Wednesday.
'At least 100 people were tortured or raped on board,' the association said in a statement, expressing disappointment that 'the boat's dark past is still taboo.
Amnesty International criticised the lack of information about the boat's history on the SAIL event's website.
Stunning: The sun goes down behind tall and small ships at the IJ river in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, after the days sailing
Source Mapuche Foundation | FOLIL
The Netherlands/ Países bajos